Federal agencies must work together to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among all Americans, according to a Produce Marketing Association-led industry task force.
The task force provided comments Aug. 10 on the Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which earlier this year published its findings and invited public input on regulations.gov. Through Aug. 10, the committee’s report has collected more than 21,500 comments.
The committee’s work and public comments are a prelude to the development of a new edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, expected later this year.
The comments of PMA’s task force call on the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services to go beyond education campaigns and invest into effective interventions that will increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, according to a news release.
“PMA and the members of the task force were pleased to see that the advisory committee continues to emphasize the need to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables across all age groups and socioeconomic groups,” Max Teplitski, chief science officer for PMA, said in the release. “However, we are all aware that consumption of fruits and vegetables continues to decline overall in the U.S. and we believe a bold action to modify consumer behavior is needed and will require coordinated policy changes and a comprehensive system approach.”
The comments from the task force also stressed the need to establish healthy eating habits at a young age.
The task force recommends the committee consider addressing the consumption of produce in programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women Infants and Children (WIC) program. Increasing produce consumption for children under eight years old, the task force said, will help instill healthy lifelong eating habits.
“The overriding message in the comments we’re providing is that the USDA and HHS actions should be focused on actual intervention to modify American diets to reflect the guidelines,” Cindy Jewell, president of Jewell Marketing and chairwoman of the PMA task force on the committee’s report, said in the release. “Over the years, guidelines have recommended increasing amounts of fruit and vegetable consumption at nearly every age, yet data shows that consumption is declining overall in the U.S. The efforts need to go beyond education and information and include proven strategies to help consumers establish long term healthy habits.”
In addition to Jewell, other members of the task force were:
- Brian Campos of Sun Pacific;
- Barbara Ruhs of Avocados from Mexico;
- Shreela Sharma of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and co-founder of Brighter Bites;
- Ted Taylor of Taylor Farms;
- Nichole Towell of Duda Farm Fresh Foods;
- Mollie Van Lieu of United Fresh Produce Association; and
- Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak of the Produce for Better Health Foundation.
Jewell will appear on PMA’s LinkedIn Live broadcast at 12:30 Eastern on Aug. 11 to discuss the next round of dietary guidelines and the industry’s recommendations.
The dietary guidelines and strategies for bringing fruits and vegetables to all consumers will be the main topic in PMA’s Virtual Town Hall: Promoting a Healthier World, set for noon Eastern on Aug. 12. Registration for Virtual Town Hall event is available online.